Did you know that improving their customer service could collectively save U.S. companies $62 billion annually? Good hotel customer service is ideal for increasing revenue, but it’s also very helpful for brand development and customer retention. Unlike your location, building structure, or amenities, providing the best hotel service experience is something you have complete control over.
But what does “the best customer service experience in a hotel” really mean?
33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor customer service. And while the definition of excellent customer service varies by industry, the best customer service hotel can be defined by the following characteristics:
- Detail. True attention to detail can’t be found in a manual. It can, however, be inspired by great working conditions and a genuine desire to help people.
- Personalization. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions are great opportunities to personalize a guest’s experience. But there are plenty of ways to customize their visit every day, you just have to look for them.
- Creativity. Customers have expectations for what most hotels will and won’t do. Identify them. Then make it a habit to go above and beyond in interesting and delightful ways.
At first these suggestions might seem vague. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll soon learn how you can easily apply these best hotel customer service principles to your own property. And if you’re wondering what that might look like, we’re so glad you asked!
What can you learn from some examples of hotels with the best customer service?
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Best Hotel Customer Service Tip: Hire the right personalities.
Guests of the Holiday Emerald are amazed at how genuinely kind their staff is. From thoughtful greetings upon entering the lobby to personally following up on special requests like restaurant recommendations, the staff at Holiday Emerald feel more like friends than employees.
Location: Puerto Del Carmen, Spain
Best Hotel Customer Service Tip: Surprise your guests with presents and appreciation.
For example, when recent guests of Lani’s were overheard discussing their upcoming anniversary as hotel patrons (their 100th night in a Lani brand hotel), the staff at the hotel came through big time. They put balloons, champagne, chocolates, and presents in their room on the day. And the owner comped their dinner at the hotel restaurant. This extreme act of appreciation made their guests feel valued and has surely solidified their status as customers for life.
Location: Dingle, Ireland
Best Hotel Customer Service Tip: Go out of your way.
The customers at Pax rave about the delicious breakfast almost as much as the customer service. A couple past guests mentioned how the hotel went out of its way to provide a shuttle ride to the bus station just for them. And another gushed about the host, John, personally delivering their morning chocolates and Irish Creme. These little touches and extras will always be noticed and appreciated by your guests!
Feeling inspired yet? Here are seven easy and creative methods you can use to improve your hotel’s customer service.
7 Ways to provide the best hotel service experience
1. Survey your guests.
People like sharing their opinions. Which is why guests will really appreciate the opportunity to help you serve them better. Rather than leave your surveys up to old fashioned comment cards, try one of these updated methods for collecting customer data.
Electronic Poll & Survey Tools
Automatically send follow up emails after clients book their rooms, when they check in, and after they’ve returned home. The key is to keep the survey short and sweet (think two questions, max). Leave the opportunity for them to write their own answers but make sure you still give them simple multiple choice options.
It’s customary for your desk agents to ask guests how their stay was when they check out. It usually leads to answers as meaningless as what you’d say to a stranger asking “how are you?”. Instead, try incorporating specific questions into your check out experience. Questions like the following help get more personal and give greater insight into how to improve your hotel customer service:
- What were your expectations before checking into our hotel?
- On a scale of 1-10, how personally invested did you believe the hotel staff was in making your stay as great as possible?
- If you had to improve one thing about our hotel customer service, what would it be?
These questions make the guest stop and think critically about their experience. It also gives the hotel staff the opportunity to address any unresolved issues or add a little cherry on top after a spectacular visit.
2. Empower hotel employees.
Some of the greatest “wow” moments can’t be planned for by upper management. Instead, it’s up to your employees to acknowledge and address those opportunities as they come up day to day. Which means you have to include one key skill in your standard employee training: improvisation.
Improvisation is a structured way of going with the flow. Having protocol for certain situations is a great jumping off point. But when those scripts become lackluster, it’s time to make the leap into more informal or creative responses.
In addition to providing appropriate training, hotels can empower their employees to perform stellar customer service through budgeting. For example, set a rule that your employees are free to come up with any creative solution they see fit to a guest’s request as long as the fix is $100 or less per person. They’ll have a greater ability to think on their feet when they have more power to take real action.
3. Get creative with lost and found.
The easiest way to ruin a vacation is to lose something really valuable to you. Whether it’s a diamond ring or a sentimental toy, hotel guests will likely check out off your hotel feeling stressed or upset over their loss. And while the hotel isn’t responsible for any lost items, they can still take ownership of how they help customers deal with the situation.
For example, let’s say a loyal guest traveling for business loses their very important work hard drive. Instead of merely notifying the patron that they’ll call him if it turns up, assign personnel to the case. Have them scope out security footage. Or mail the guest a replacement along with a handwritten note expressing their desire to help improve the situation.
No matter what your budget is, showing a hotel guest you care just as much about their lost or stolen item as they do will make all the difference.
4. Have a sense of humor.
There’s a fine line between being professional and having no personality. Which is why charming stories about hotel customer service loosening their ties a little really get to us.
Like a guest who jokes about wanting a pony when asked what else hotel staff can help him with today, only to later receive a print out of the most highly rated horse farms within a 25 mile radius slipped under his door. Or the customer who left their hotel room because it needed repairs, only to come back and see an apology note along with a chocolate wrench.
These stories put a smile on our faces. And while they still maintain the prestige of a highly acclaimed hotel brand, they offer a little silliness that guests will undoubtedly both appreciate and remember.
5. Problem solve interdepartmentally.
When it comes to hotel management, creating team bonding between the various departments that make up a successful property isn’t a list topper for most. But it really should be. There are plenty of situations that could be solved by asking the right person. However, guests are often flustered and unsure of who to turn to.
By educating every employee about what the hotel offers, who does what, and how they’ve helped guests in the past, your staff will be better equipped to provide five star service without any extra work.
For example, your concierge might not know that a member of your housekeeping staff is exceptional at sewing torn dresses, even if it’s mere hours before a gala. Or maybe your spa administrator hasn’t heard about the recreational staff onsite that can assist with children’s craft hours for parents that need last minute day care solutions.
6. Be legendary.
How does one provide customer service that withstands the test of time? By going where no hotel has gone before. There’s a great story about a hotel valet who, upon hearing a woman left her entire luggage collection at her house (a three hour drive away), saved the day. He borrowed her house keys, drove the company car all the way there and back, and returned her luggage to her before her dinner reservation that evening.
Now, obviously that’s extreme. And not every hotel can provide services that personal, especially when you need staff onsite for busy days. But it’s a great example of what stands out in the minds of your guests:
- Going out of your way. Quite literally, in this example, the employee drove for roughly 6 hours almost non stop.
- Doing something no other hotel would do. There’s a reason why this story stands out. When the opportunity comes up, think to yourself, have I ever heard of a hotel doing this before? Even if it sounds crazy it could be just the thing you’re looking for.
- Treating each individual guest like royalty. This employee could have decided that this one guest’s mistakes weren’t as important as his presence on property. But given how upset she was, his quick thinking and heroic actions surely made her feel more than welcome at this establishment.
If sending employees offsite to run guest errands isn’t your jam, consider doing something simpler but still press release worthy. Following the success of their pillow menu, Chicago’s Hilton released a Sleep Menu. The Sleep Menu was filled with everything from lavender bath bombs to high end sleep technology. While they did have options guests had to pay for, they offered plenty of complementary ones too.
Basically just do something customer service that has never been done before by another hotel. It may sound intimidating at first, but once you start looking for these opportunities as they organically present themselves, you’re sure to find one sooner or later.
7. Form strategic partnerships.
Sometimes your upgrades and special treatments can come from outside sources. It can be a gift for your loyalty members or a bonus for adding on special a la carte reservation items, or anything in between. Little details like these help you stand out without any extra cost to you.
For example, you can offer a free cheese platter from a high quality local shop at check in. The shop can promote themselves while also help to improve your hotel customer service. The same can apply for certificates to popular local attractions (wine tours, bungee jumping, etc.) and even free rental equipment like skis. If you have brands in your local area that align with your hotel’s vibe and they’re willing to provide services or goods that will enhance your customers’ experience, we say go for it!
Need more ideas? Check out three customer service tips from top hotel brands.
Improving hotel customer service with best practices
No matter where you are or what your budget is, there will always be a way you can provide the best customer service experience in your hotel. Keep these points in mind as you hire, train, and empower your customer service employees.
Or, if you already have an incredible staff, come up with out-of-the-box ways to give your customers an experience they can only have at your location. From big gestures to tiny details, you’ll be sure to find new and interesting ways to provide the absolute best hotel customer service experience! Ready for the next step? Explore five ways tech can solve common hotel customer service headaches.